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12 Feb 2019

Infrastructure bill necessary for growth: Greg Budworth

The NSW government's proposed Hunter Region Special Infra structure Contribution (SIC) has attracted criticism but things are not as black and white as some critics claim.

 

It proposes developers of dwellings on recently-rezoned land be charged a levy to help cover the cost of supplying the infrastructure needed to support the Hunter's growing population. It replaces the current system of voluntary planning agreements where developers negotiate contributions for each development.

The government estimates the SIC will raise around half a billion dollars, about 15 per cent of the cost of providing the roads, schools, health and emergency services infrastructure needed to support growth. It says the SIC is simpler, fairer, and will help speed up development. Critics claim the SIC will simply be passed on to consumers, pushing up the price of housing.

The reality is less straightforward. Some developers may try to pass additional costs on to consumers, but final purchase prices will inevitably be a function of consumers' willingness and ability to pay. These in turn are heavily influenced by market sentiment and access to credit.

Faced with this constraint, some developers may choose to factor the cost of the SIC into the price they are willing to pay for undeveloped land. Others may reduce their margin expectations. Some may do both.

It's worth noting the SIC will apply to new developments on land that has recently been, or is identified to be, re-zoned to allow residential or industrial development.

Owners of this land will have benefited from an exponential increase in its value.

It seems reasonable for those who benefit financially from new land releases to contribute to the cost of supporting infrastructure in a consistent way. That doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement.

Developers take on significant risks and play an important role in addressing the region's housingcrisis. It is important they remain profitable. Striking the right balance may involve offering developers limited concessions on floor space or car park ratios in exchange for contributions.

Successful and sustainable communities need more than just homes. They also need public infrastructure.

The question we should be asking is how the cost of providing that infrastructure can be equitably divided amongst the community.

What is vital is that there is an open and transparent process and factual debate.


Greg Budworth is the Group Managing Director, Compass Housing Services, and Vice President, UN Habitat's General Assembly of Partners

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24 Jan 2019

Despite falls, Aussie housing still amongst world's most expensive

Regional markets not exempt.

Australia has retained its status as one of the least affordable countries in the world according to the most recent Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey. 

Leading community housing provider Compass Housing Services said the results showed the need for urgent government action on housing.

The Demographia survey measures housing affordability by comparing median prices with median household incomes.  All five of Australia’s major housing markets (population >1 million) were in the “severely unaffordable” category and, despite recent price falls, Sydney and Melbourne maintained their positions as among the most unaffordable housing markets in the world.

Most expensive major markets (pop > 1million)

Rank

Country

City

Median Multiple

1

China

Hong Kong

20.9

2

Canada

Vancouver

12.6

3

Australia

Sydney

11.7

4

Australia

Melbourne

9.7

5

USA

San Jose

9.4

6

USA

Los Angeles

9.2

7

NZ

Auckland

9.0

8

USA

San Francisco

8.8

9

USA

Honolulu

8.6

10

UK

London

8.3

14

Australia

Adelaide

6.9

18

Australia

Brisbane

6.3

21

Australia

Perth

5.7

Source: Demographia 2019

 

 
However Compass Housing’s Manager of Public Affairs Martin Kennedy said it wasn’t just major markets where affordability was an issue.

“The survey’s findings are consistent with those of the Compass Housing Affordable Housing Income Gap Report, which last year found housing stress was not restricted to capital cities and was not only experienced by low income households,” he said.

Of the 23 Australian cities and towns included in the Demographia report, only Gladstone, with a median multiple of 2.9, is deemed to be affordable.  

Rockhampton, with a median multiple of 3.8 is deemed “moderately unaffordable”, while Albury-Wodonga, Alice Springs, Darwin, Mackay and Townsville are “seriously unaffordable” with median multiples between 4.1 and 5.0.

The remaining 16 markets are all deemed “severely unaffordable”.  Remarkably, both the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast have median multiples higher than London.

Mr Kennedy said the findings prove that although prices have begun to decline in some areas, they remain out of reach for median income households.

 “Prices might be falling at the moment, but the reality is in some areas it would take a fall of 50% or more just to get back into the ‘moderately unaffordable’ category,” he said.

“The broader economic consequences of such an outcome, if it came to pass, would be severe and could result in even higher levels of housing stress”.

The most recent Productivity Commission report found more than 50% of low-income households in the private rental market were already experiencing housing stress.

There are five simple things governments can do to fix Australia's housing system so that it works for everyone. 

  • Reset our tax system to make it fairer for ordinary Australians wanting to buy a home.
  • Appoint a minister for housing & develop a strategy to deliver 500,000 social and affordable homes.
  • Improve renters’ rights by getting rid of “no grounds” evictions and unfair rent increases.
  • Increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance for the thousands of families who are struggling to pay the rent.
  • Develop a National Plan to end homelessness by 2030.

 
Find out more at: www.everybodyshome.com.au

ENDS

Media contact: Martin Kennedy 0418 353 913 / martink@compasshousing.org

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16 Dec 2018

Compass Housing makes submission to Central Coast Council's draft affordable housing strategy

Compass Housing has made a submission to Central Coast Council’s Draft Affordable and Alternative Housing Strategy.

The strategy includes 28 recommended actions to address the growing need for affordable and alternative housing options in the NSW coast region, north of Sydney.

The key points from Compass’ submission are as follows.

  • Compass congratulates Council for its recognition of the importance of affordable housing.
  • It supports the potential re-zoning of developable land within 400m of selected town centres and within 800 metres of selected railway stations and transport nodes but encourages council to assess the existing density of social housing within these zones before permitting the construction of additional social housing, to ensure overall densities are not excessive.
  • It endorses Council’s support of the “housing first” approach which has been internationally evidenced as the most effective method to reduce homelessness.
  • It strongly supports the resourcing and promotion of a homeless hub.
  • It welcomes the proposal for multi-tenure development on Council owned land.
  • It has reservations about extending the scope of transitional housing as a response to homelessness
  • It strongly supports a pilot program to build relationships between homelessness services and private real estate agents.
  • It supports an amendment of the DCP to limit the parking requirements to 0.6 per studio or one bedroom apartment and 1 space for two bedroom apartments.
  • It supports proposals to lobby the state government for an affordable housing levy in the Gosford Town Centre and to increased density and/or FSR and height increases in proximity to the CBD and railway stations.
  • Compass believes that, if council is considering small lot subdivisions of 200m2, it should require exceptional design and energy performance with resident running costs and amenity being the primary focus.
  • It believes allowing smaller floor spaces for one-bedroom apartments can lead to modest improvements in affordability BUT good design, amenity and energy performance need to be applied as a developmental control - delivers running cost advantages and savings for the resident/tenant.
  • It would welcome Council’s advocacy of title or management transfers of existing public housing to community housing providers
  • Compass says a more useful measurement of affordability for purchase prices than the 30% rule is the median multiple, i.e. the median dwelling price divided by the median gross household income.

Read Compass’ full submission here.

The public exhibition period closes at 5pm Friday 21 December 2018.


Compass Housing is a not for profit social and affordable housing provider. It manages around 700 social and affordable housing dwellings on the Central Coast. Earlier this year Compass Housing published the inaugural Affordable Housing Income Gap report. It looked at a different way to measure rental housing stress and found that even median income renting households in the Central Coast renting a median priced dwelling are experiencing housing stress.

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09 Dec 2018

Compass Commemorates 70 Year Anniversary of UN Declaration of Human Rights

On the 10th December, 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  At the time, the world was recovering and rebuilding in many parts of the world resulting from WWII and the Cold War was in its early days.  The UN itself was in its early years, but this Declaration was the first time that countries agreed together on a comprehensive statement of inalienable human rights. 

One of the chief architects of the drafting was an Australian, Dr. Herbert Vere Evatt, a former High Court justice. Dr. Evatt would later become the President of the UN General Assembly and, under his Presidency, the Declaration was adopted.

Every year, World Human Rights Day is observed on the 10th December to commemorate the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted 30 Articles which set out universal values and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.

The principles enshrined in the Declaration are as relevant today as they were in 1948 and we need to stand up and take action in our own daily lives to protect our rights and those of others.


As an organisation, Compass is closely aligned with the principles of the Declaration and in particular Article 25:  “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services…”

As part of the 70 year celebrations, some of the Compass team have shared their views on particular Articles of the Declaration and how they, as individuals, can stand up for rights and where they would like to see change.

Leading Statement by Compass GMD Greg Budworth:

As people strive for fulfilment of their individual needs and wants, which are aggregated to some degree in the needs and wants of nations, and which often differ in their respective political, economic and social systems, and often manifest in disproportionate advantages for some and disproportionate exploitation for other within and between nations, human rights provides a basic set of standard conditions to be provided and protected by governments for all people.  To be involved in provision of services to those more likely to be systemically exploited, to be poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged, requires continuous political advocacy and community influence to maintain that basic set of rights against all forces that would seek to dilute, alienate or ignore them.

Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

  • I would like to see change in people acting towards others in a spirit of brotherhood, instead of allowing bias or prejudice to distract from that equality.  To do my part, I will not assume the negative first.  I will not let fear or mistrust cloud my interactions with people, or look to them from any position other than equal footing.  | Carrie B
  • Everyone regardless of gender, nationality, age and ability should have rights to love their life with plenty to eat, shelter, medical attention, education and social inclusion. As one person in part of a greater society, I make a commitment to check in and include all neighbours, friends, work colleagues and relatives to establish a presence for them to know that I am there for them in their time of need or if / when they need help for social inclusion. | Danni M
  • Regardless of race, age, social status, gender we all deserve the right to be treated equally. I will continue to work, speak, interact and empower my co-workers, our tenants and our community to act towards one another in a respectful and non-judgemental way. To stand up and speak out against any injustice against a person due an appeared inequality. | Mel H

Article 4: No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

  • More people in servitude today than any time in history. Only 1% are rescued. Let’s get serious about abolishing slavery forever | Therese G

Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

  • Be courageous; make a noise about cruel or degrading treatment in your neighbourhood. Alert the authorities if it’s inappropriate to intervene directly | Theresa G
  • Australia’s stance regarding asylum seekers has resulted in treatment of thousands of people, some of whom have languished in prison-like conditions for many years, that contravenes this Article. Community pressure, including petitions I have signed, has led us to remove many families with children from Nauru and bring them to Australia for treatment. This is a start, but it’s not good enough. We must stop politicising this and recognise the human faces, process them swiftly, and bring them here. | Kerry H

Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile

  • Indigenous deaths in custody and indeed the mistreatment while in custody in Australia and abroad is unjust and horrific and we need to stand together and demand change. The instances of arbitrary arrest and detention of Indigenous people have not subsided and has led to injury and sadly too many deaths in custody. This continues to be a significant failure and disgrace to our national legal system. We need to demand this is a priority for government and all officers of the law to be educated and trained in making better judgements and to take an oath to improving individual and organisational performance in this area. #standup4humanrights. | Jandy M

Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

  • I will always listen without judgement or interference. I will always endeavour to defend my rights and the rights of others in our freedom of expression. I will demonstrate respect and empathy. | Emma O

Article 25: (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

  • I would like to see more education and awareness in the general community about the many causes of homelessness. I will advocate for people experiencing homelessness and do what is within my power to break down misconceptions and to open up conversations about it.| Michelle F
  • Homelessness is a massive issue in the hunter and country as a whole. There is a severe lack of emergency accommodation here in the Hunter. I read a story about a gentleman in the UK who was converting buses into mobile sleep bays and mobile bathrooms to help provide people on the streets with a safe place to go for the night, I’d love to see something similar implemented here in Australia to at least provide the homeless with a safe bed and shelter for the night.  | Vanessa K
  • As a legal, commercial and procurement professional I may have access to large networks of individuals and organisations that have greater connections, capacity or skills to fundraise. I can engage with these networks to influence change and demand more attention and effort be given to tackle homelessness | Brenden M
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09 Dec 2018

Australia’s human rights legacy tarnished by housing woes

70 years ago this week, the international community adopted the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR). In the wake of a half century characterised by two world wars responsible for the destruction of more than 50 million human beings, the UDHR was conceived as a beacon of reason and decency with which the global community might light the way forward. 

Although the horrors that presaged its birth would have made it easy to dismiss as a Panglossian fantasy, the UDHR was nevertheless a much-needed affirmation of the essential dignity of humanity. And while its aims may have been utopian, it meant the international community, for the first time, had an agreed set of principles by which nations could be judged. “From now on,” it said,” wherever in the world you happen to live, and whatever system of government happens to prevail there, by virtue of your humanity alone, you are entitled to these essential protections.”

Perhaps due to the genesis of the UDHR being inextricably linked with the Second World War, we tend to think of human rights in terms of the prevention of genocide, or the protection of refugees. Less thought is given to those rights that go to the ability of individuals and families to enjoy a standard of living adequate for their health and wellbeing. Yet in the developed world at least, it is these rights that are perhaps most under threat. Nowhere is this more true than in Australia where housing costs in particular are denying millions of people the ability to provide a safe and secure environment for themselves and their families.

In 2007 a United Nations special rapporteur on adequate housing visited Australia and reported that we had failed to address this fundamental human right, primarily due to there being no national plan. More than ten years later, very little has changed.

Over the past 20 years median rents in Australia have increased significantly above inflation and, when it comes to purchase prices, Australia remains among the most expensive places in the world. Although prices have begun to trend lower in recent months, the almost exponential growth of recent years means putting a roof over our heads still takes a much bigger slice of our income than it used to. The sad truth is that for prices in Australia to return to a level that would be considered affordable by international standards, we would need to see falls of more than 50% in some markets. The broader economic consequences of such a crash hardly bear thinking about.

The impact of high rents and purchase prices have been amplified by our country’s failure to maintain an adequate supply of social and affordable housing. A new report from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), says 730,000 new social and affordable housing properties are needed in Australia by 2036. A significant amount of this shortfall exists right now. As we prepare to mark the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, it is totally unacceptable that a country as wealthy as Australia should be unable to provide its citizens with the basic human right to adequate housing. After all, it’s not as if we don’t know how.

On the contrary, the solutions to Australia’s housing problem are well known. What is missing is the political will. “Everybody’s Home” is a national campaign put together by housing experts that seeks to gather political support for those solutions. There are 5 simple things our Government can do to fix Australia’s housing system so that it works for everyone:

  1. Reset our tax system to make it fairer for ordinary Australians wanting to buy a home.
  2. Appoint a minister for housing and develop a national housing strategy to deliver 500,000 social and affordable rental homes.
  3. Improve renters’ rights throughout Australia by getting rid of “no grounds” evictions and unfair rent rises.
  4. Increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance for the thousands of Australians who are struggling to pay the rent.
  5. Develop a National Plan to end homelessness by 2030.

Some will argue that adopting these solutions would be too expensive, and it is true that building that amount of new housing would require substantial investment from the Australian Government. But at approximately $9 billion a year, it is certainly not impossible, particularly when the Commonwealth currently foregoes around $62 billion of potential revenue each year through various home ownership subsidies. Making it happen is just a matter of priorities. There is even a local precedent. In the decade following World War II, the Australian Government partnered with the states to build 670,000 homes. We need to see that kind of vision again.

If you think housing is your biggest and most important cost of living pressure, it is time to make housing an election issue. Visit www.everybodyshome.com.au to make sure your voice is heard.  

ENDS


Greg Budworth is the group managing director of Compass Housing Services, and the Vice President of UN Habitat’s General Assembly of Partners.

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